Taylor back to his best for European Championship
This week sees the sixth edition of the PDC’s European Championship which has become one of the key events of the first half of the season for the top players from across the continent.
With a first prize of £50,000 and the top 16 in the world automatically qualifying it has always attracted the very best players and with it being held in various new venues around Europe (this time in Frankfurt, Germany) and with a new broadcaster in ITV it is an exciting prospect.
The top 16 in the regular Order of Merit are joined by the top eight in the Players Championship rankings, the top seven in the European Order of Merit and the top player in the Scandinavian Darts Corporation.
Phil Taylor has dominated the history of this tournament winning the first four editions before Brendan Dolan became the first player ever to beat him in the competition in the quarter-finals a year ago. Simon Whitlock went on to lift the trophy, his first major in the PDC and that result will give plenty of players hope that they can emerge victorious as well.
As has become the case since his Premier League win it is Michael van Gerwen who is the bookie’s favourite coming into this one at a best price of 9/4 with Boyle Sports. MVG has not had it all his own way since adding the Premier League trophy to his collection though with Taylor dumping him out of the UK Open and Adrian Lewis edging him out of the recent Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
His form is not quite what it was in the first few months of the season when he looked near-enough unbeatable and the man who seems to be in better touch is the Power. The world number one regained his UK Open title and no one got near him in Gibraltar so he will go into this one as confident as ever and desperate to regain another title which he will feel is his.
Taylor is a best of 3/1 with Bwin and given his recent performances that looks a really decent price on the best player of all time. Also considering his record in the tournament over the years is played 28, won 27 and lost one then he has to be worth a few spare pounds.
After these two there is a big jump in the odds to Raymond van Barneveld who is a best price of 14/1 with Sky Bet. This is one of the few majors that Barney has never been to the final in though and given that he is likely to meet Taylor in the quarters then he is not a particularly tempting bet.
Picking from the field is always a difficult choice but taking form and the draw into account then Andy Hamilton may well be worth taking a punt on. He has proved consistently for the last 18 months that he can beat anyone on the planet and has done so even more recently with runs to the final at the UK Open and a Players Championship event in Crawley. Although there is no easy quarter in the competition he does seem to have the best looking one and at 28/1 with Bet365 he could be a great each-way bet.
The tournament begins on Thursday in Frankfurt and the winner will be declared on Sunday evening when they will walk off with the enormous trophy and equally large cheque of £50k.